The Washington Free Beacon reports, a federal court ordered the city of Los Angeles to pay the NRA’s lawyer fees of approximately $150,000, just months after he ruled a city ordinance violated the gun-rights group’s First Amendment rights.
The City of Los Angeles tried to penalize any contractor with ties to the NRA. The NRA sued over the ordinance and federal district court judge Stephen Wilson ruled it was an unconstitutional violation of the NRA’s First Amendment rights. The city eventually repealed it and on Tuesday, the judge ordered city officials to pay the NRA’s attorney fees totaling about $150,000.
“In this case, the text of the Ordinance, the Ordinance’s legislative history, and the concurrent public statements made by the Ordinance’s primary legislative sponsor evince a strong intent to suppress the speech of the NRA,” Judge Wilson ruled in December. “Even though the Ordinance only forces disclosure of activity that may not be expressive, the clear purpose of the disclosure is to undermine the NRA’s explicitly political speech.”
According to a report by The Washington Free Beacon, the NRA filed suit against the ordinance shortly after it was implemented in April 2019. Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the NRA, told the Washington Free Beacon the rulings prove the city unfairly targeted the group because of its advocacy.
“Violations of any constitutional rights by government officials should carry consequences,” she said. “The courts have rightfully imposed those consequences upon Los Angeles. The NRA will continue our fight and, as always, work to hold politicians accountable.”
Los Angeles Ordinance No. 186000 explicitly stated it was intended to prevent the city from doing business with anyone who had ties to the NRA.
“The City of Los Angeles has enacted ordinances and adopted positions that promote gun safety and sensible gun ownership,” the ordinance reads. “The City’s residents deserve to know if the City’s public funds are spent on contractors that have contractual or sponsorship ties with the NRA. Public funds provided to such contractors undermines the City’s efforts to legislate and promote gun safety.”
City leaders publicly defended the ordinance. In interviews with NPR, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D.) said he had confidence in the policy.
“I support this policy, I’m confident in it, and we’re not going to be bullied by the NRA,” said Garcetti in an emailed statement.
Council member Mitch O’Farrell (D.) charged that “The NRA’s First Amendment rights remain firmly in place while the City chooses to exercise its own rights to require disclosing who has ties to the NRA, so residents of Los Angeles know how and where their tax dollars are being spent.”
Other supporters of the ordinance called the NRA’s lawsuit “desperate.”
Judge Wilson disagreed, saying, “the City adopted the Ordinance ‘because of disagreement with the message’ of the NRA and with the explicit intent to suppress that message—the Ordinance should therefore be considered a content-based regulation of speech.” The city agreed in February to repeal the ordinance, stop any enforcement of it, and notify contractors they do not have to disclose ties to the NRA.